Feet to the Mountains, Splash in the Streams

The drafts are piling up again. A months worth of blog posts that I start and either never finish or decide not to publish. One is a meditation on Mother’s Day and Pentecost. Another about Isaiah 58, and rebuilding ancient ruins and restoring broken dreams. Another about how I am done writing  for a while. Another about the need for foster parents. Another about how the words are all spilled and now is the time to “chop wood and carry water”. Another about being “All In”.

The common thread: it’s time to do the thing, regardless of what anyone thinks. Personally, I’m done doing everything else but the thing. I am tired of trying to measure up to anyone else’s convictions. I am tired of hiding, of pretending, of writing voiceless protagonists carried away by circumstances beyond their control. I am tired of measuring my obedience to Christ by a handful of verses in Titus and Timothy without taking into account the mighty women of the Old and New Testament.

Ain’t nobody got time for all that. There’s been no room for slave women  since the crucifixion, and no time for timidity since Pentecost.  The Kingdom must advance.

What is the thing? It looks a little different for everyone, in how it plays out. But it is the work Christ began and commanded and empowered the church to carry out. It is the only thing that matters, the place of joy in God and bringing Him glory. It is walking in step with the Spirit, and in the heart of the Father, for our families, community, nation and world.

We are given one life. Just one. At the end of it, the only opinion that will matter is the one of the GodMan who said “whatsoever you have done for the least of these, my brethren…”  He who pointed out fields white for the harvest and commanded his followers to go out into all the world has promised the power to carry out the task.

Right now, there is a huge need for foster and adoptive families in our community. Beyond that, we must remedy the circumstances bringing families  to that point. There is a need to bring the gospel into the darkness of addiction, the hopelessness of poverty, physical and mental affliction, and to pierce the veil of illiteracy and ignorance.

I remember when He first called me. I know where He brought me from, and it ain’t pretty. The good news of Christ met me in many of the areas I listed above. That alone should compel me to extravagant worship, untiring labor, faithful dominion, and ceaseless praise.  He has proven His sustaining power again and again.

God  has proven Himself mighty on my behalf and I want to be where He is, doing what He does. This is the place of joy, the place of the Shepherd’s leading.

So today, obedience to that call looks like caring for my family and continuing to get the house ready for an adoption home study.  In a couple of weeks it will look like finalizing lesson plans for our church’s literacy program. Next fall, it might include an online class or two, because I’ve pretty much maxed out what I can do with the tools I already have, and some of my  Samaria and End of the Earth dreams require a bit more learning.

What about you? What is your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria? What mountains has Christ called you to? When is the last time you played in the streams?  What joy unspeakable, full of glory, waits over that next rise? He is joy unspeakable, full of glory,  and He has called us to come and to follow Him!

 

 

Who would Jesus vote for?

In the past, I’ve tried to avoid writing about politics. I don’t hold a corner market on truth, and I respect that people come from many different perspectives, and believe as they do for their own reasons.

However, I have been a lifetime student of scripture. I can read, and while I do not understand it all, I believe I can articulate some of the major themes of scripture as it pertains to civic duty.

In Genesis, we see all mankind given stewardship of the earth, to tend it and fill it.  We see the people dividing into nations. God chooses one family as His own, but all nations of the earth are blessed and judged according the  same criteria.

Some reasons God judges a nations include:

  1. Arrogance and refusal to care for the poor (Sodom and Gomorrah) According to Ezekiel 16:49, 49Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”
  2. War crimes against other nations.
  3. The rich taking advantage of the poor, particularly the widows and fatherless
  4. The shedding of innocent blood.
  5. Unjust judges, unjust business practices
  6. False worship, idolatry, also hypocrisy among those who claim to be worshipers of Yahweh
  7. Harsh treatment of foreigners, strangers, and refugees
  8. Wicked trading practices with other nations. This is usually described in lurid sexual terms evoking harlotry, but the sin being discussed is economic, not sexual.

I am sure there are more. This is the general gist of Israel’s prophets, decrying nations for their lovelessness toward God and their neighbor. Jesus said that the whole law of Moses could be summed up in loving God with your whole being and loving your neighbor as yourself.

God will hold us accountable for how every human being is treated. Syrian humans. Unborn humans. Poor humans. Black humans. Immigrants. Women.

In reading Job and the Psalms, we can also see God’s cares for the earth and its creatures.

Jesus, as God who came in flesh, was remarkably indifferent to the politics of His day.

In the gospels, we find Jesus decrying hypocrisy and false worship and telling people to stop worrying so much about amassing wealth, but to trust God and care for the poor instead. He touched the lepers and healed them. He healed all who came to Him weighted down with infirmity, and charged nothing (how’s that for healthcare reform?) He was often swamped by the disabled, the outcast, and those suffering with mental illness. The poor flocked to him. The religious leaders stood at the fringes of the crowd, looking for a way to trap him. They feared Him because he was politically impractical, if the people followed Him as a King, the Romans would swoop in and take away whatever national sovereignty they had left. The Pharisees didn’t necessarily like Herod, but at least he was an evil they knew.

When backed into a corner to answer political questions, Jesus always brought to light the weightier issues.

Man trying to trick Jesus into making a political statement: Should we pay taxes?

Jesus: Show me the coin. Whose picture is on it?

Tricky guy: Caesar’s

Jesus: If Caesar’s picture is on it, then give it to Caesar. Render to God what belongs to God. (In this case the whole of our beings, as we bear His image.)

Jesus did not come to earth to start a political revolution, but to claim His rightful throne in the hearts and lives of every being on earth. His work on earth looked so much smaller than king making and grew to something so much greater than mere Rome.

The earth is the Lord’s and all it’s fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Jesus doesn’t need to vote, that’s not how He went about things anyway.

When we look at the state of our nation today, we need to look through the lens of scripture and not just one political party’s  platform. Christianity has no business in the kind of politics that builds godless empires while refusing to care for the poor. We have no business in the politics of mocking and mud slinging. We’d be better off working on the grassroots level, like Jesus did, and waiting for empires to rise and fall around us.

And so, dear Christian, I implore you, in the words of Peter’s 1st letter: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

Psalm 118, The Sheep Selection, and a Homeless Man

My children and I have been working on singing Psalm 118: 15-29. This is the “Hosanna” Psalm that people would have been singing on the way to Jerusalem for Passover.

We had a homeless friend doing some work for us today around our little homestead. He heard us singing. “That’s about the lamb selection,” he said. “Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day of the lamb selection”.

I knew it was a Passover Psalm, but that small bit of trivia added so much depth and meaning to some of the words.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day each household came and selected a lamb for he sacrifice.

Here is what we were singing:

The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly The right hand of the Lord is exalted

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord

The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death

Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will go through them and I will bless the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter

I will praise you, for you have answered me, an have become my salvation

 

Christian Homeschooling Under That Sweet Law of Liberty.

I read a post recently where someone divided Christian homeschooling groups into categories based on conservative practice. It was written as satire and funny, but it got me thinking about how easy it is to measure ourselves and others against modern evangelicalism or our current culture, without referencing the things the Jesus found “weighty”.

In my mind, it boils down to this: we are to love God with our whole beings, and love others. We can lay many wise bricks on the foundation of honoring God and others, but loving God with everything He put in us may look different from person to person and family to family.

We live in the country and have a garden and tend farm animals, not as a measure of weird homeschool righteousness, but because that is where we are and we are putting our hand to what we were given. My kids use technology in their schooling, they also read a lot of books. We prefer Star Trek to Little House on the Prairie.  Gracie takes Latin and piano because she excels with auditory learning; Emmy takes art classes and raises goats because she excels on visual and hands on activities. I am not very a fashion minded person, so as long as my kids are wearing clean jeans when we go to town, something attractive to church,we’re good. (I still buy their clothes, with mostly farm life and church in mind, so modesty I not as much of an issue as “how long will it last”) We try to read the Bible together every day. We sing Psalms, but I often put on contemporary praise music, Mumford and Sons, or country music on while we do our chores. These are all matters of preference, not righteousness.

My kids could grow up and move to the city, and they’d still belong to God. They could be passionate about fashion, or food, or Microbiology, or political activism, and they’d still be part of His flock. They could have hour long quiet times every day, or throw up frenzied prayers as they serve the poor and they would still require the righteousness of Christ.

Sometimes I worry that the climate in our nation fosters an unhealthy extremism.  Like, normal Christianity isn’t good enough, so we have to supersize it by adding a bunch of things that aren’t even found in the Law. Or we have to reinvent it, because what’s worked for thousands of years is somehow not relevant to this o-so special-generation.

Jesus is our righteousness. Our rightness with God. He is also Living Emmanuel, God with Us who walks with us every day.  As long as my children learn to look to Him, to hear His voice, and be tender to His Spirit, we’re good.

Jesus Was a Brown, Homeless Man

I love reading the gospel of Matthew. It makes me want to stand up and cheer. I LOVE that in the midst of the greatest empire on earth, a poor itinerant preacher turned the world upside down.

Try reading about the life of Julius Ceasar sometime. Born of a great, well known Roman family, he was presumably destined for greatness. He spent his life pushing for greatness, vying for power. He got what he wanted. And he was killed for it.

Jesus, the very Son of God, born of a forgotten kingly line. Born in the backwater of the empire. Raised by a carpenter. Poor. Baptized by a locust eating preacher in the wilderness. Had a conversation with the devil. Ministered only to an obscure, displaced people. Some of those people wanted Him to be their King and lead a revolution, but he was cut down just when he was becoming popular. And yet…

His Kingdom overwhelmed the Roman Empire and the entire earth and his dominion has no end!

“Blessed are re the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The Crazy, Discontenting Dream

I have had a recurring dream over the past couple of weeks.

I wake up in a new home. I don’t remember moving in. I am just suddenly awake. Shane has been waiting for me to wake up. I tell my husband about a rather absurd dream I was having (within the dream), then get up to find the rest of the family

It is a large home with many rooms, and more faces appear in each new room I explore. Everyone has been waiting for me. My family is all there, and my extended family, and my neighbors. Assorted children run freely through. We are all getting ready for church, because it is Sabbath here, always Sabbath. My stuff isn’t there, because the house is already equipped with anything I could possibly need. I’m still in Mount Solon, but a different Mount Solon.

When I finally awake for real, I try to shake a slight feeling of discontent. That “dream home:” didn’t seem to need constant cleaning and repairs. It just was as it should be, all in order and never falling apart or leaking or molding. The people I care about are there, and they are happy and unhassled.

It took me until just today to understand the dream as I remembered this: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions…”

My husband insists that this is the dream and that the reality

Rejoicing Barbarians and the Renunciation of Mommy Wars

Children are uncivilized.

Ask me how I know, I dare you. I could, perhaps, tell you a story of a tube of toothpaste emptied down the back of a sisters shorts because she “wasn’t wiping well enough”. Or I could tell you any number of other stories to illustrate my point.

Parents are uncivilized.

It has something to do with sleep deprivation, constant demands, and physical weariness, I suppose. It is the smear of unknown substances on my clothes, the brain tired inability to make coherent small talk, or maybe the unending train of dishes and laundry.

People need Community.

Sometimes there is a temptation to avoid others. I don’t want people close enough to see the dust on the mantle, the fact that my hair is only barely brushed, or to notice that I am sometimes completely unable to string two intelligent words together. In a Pinterest world, I am sometimes embarrassed that there are days when all I can come up with is “Go make mudpies” or “Clean your room”. Let’s not even talk about the state of my yard and garden. There are days when I feel like I am the only one who doesn’t have her act together, and I don’t want anyone to know.

Communities are important. They are the safety net. They are the village. They care for their own, they provide accountability, they insure that no one goes hungry. When I remove myself from community, I selfishly withhold blessing from others. Even if I feel that I don’t measure up to some unspoken ideal, my feelings matter little compared to a world that needs a friend, a listening ear, and the levity that my circus monkeys provide.

We all need Good News

Today we ate our breakfast on my grandmother’s fine china. Not to take pictures for Pinterest and pretend that this is the way it always is, but as an act of defiance and incarnation. We ate in defiance to the idea that this will always be the way things are and it will never get any better. We ate in defiance to the native barbarism that would rather have us eating off of plastic in front of the TV.

We ate in the spirit of the Incarnation. The King of the Universe resided in  a dung filled stall. The Holy One touched the lepers and unclean. Creator God humbled Himself even to death.  We ate in reverence to Emmanuel God, God with us. We ate to remember to “Lift up our eyes”, to look both to whence our help comes from and to the world outside our home.

Grubby houses and naughty children are the nature of things in this season of our lives. I am awed at anyone with the organizational skills, discipline, and money to have it any other way, though maybe not as overly awed as I once was.

Fifteen years from now, the outside of my cup may very well be clean and presentable. My children will be older and more mature. Their bodily functions will be generally contained to one room of our home. I may very well miss sticky faced kisses, bath times, and their utter trust and reliance on me.

For now, I rejoice with the barbarian horde, in the midst of pillaged bedrooms and desolate cabinets. I lift up my eyes, not to covet someone else’s house/yard/well behaved children, but to realize that the Holy One is still at work giving sight back to the blind and unstopping deaf ears. He is still calling the lame, the foolish and the broken “My People” and “Beloved”.